Jamshedpur:The Tata Football Academy (TFA) is a cradle for footballers much like the MRF Pace foundation is for cricketers. Over the last two decades they have churned out more than a hundred talented professionals but none have been able to emulate the success story of S Sreesunth or Irfan Pathan. While the sport's stagnancy in India has been one of the reasons, the other was lack of international exposure, something that has prompted TFA to search for greener pastures. "We thought that in the interest of the children at TFA and for Indian football, we need to have a tie up with a club. In this connection, we discussed matters with the Southampton club," said Satish Pillai, Director, TFA. Much-needed opportunity "The association means that the TFA cadets will get an opportunity to play in those clubs and we can also have exchange of coaches," he added. The tie-up with Southampton might be just what the Academy needs. The current batch of graduates is the TFA's seventh, and like previous years, they have all been absorbed into the country's top football clubs. In fact, in the last 18 years, 81 of the 134 graduates, including Carlton Chapman, Noel Wilson, and Renedy Singh have donned India colours. But they have not been able to translate their talent evident at the Academy to consistently good performances at the national and international levels. "In TFA the boys train with us for four years and as a team we are very strong. We are the only Academy which plays with all the top clubs," said Ranjan Choudhury, chief coach, TFA. That is why the TFA's tie-up with Southampton is likely to be highly beneficial. But the international exposure that it brings isn't alone going to lift the level of Indian football. That will need a thorough shake up of the Federation bosses.